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May 18, 2007

Padraig Harrington


GORDON SIMPSON: Padraig, that was some serious quality golf out there today, and perhaps if you sunk more putts, you might have been close to that 63 you shot here a couple of years ago.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Well, I don't think it was going to be a 63 but certainly, I played well, created a lot of chances. Didn't give myself in any bother all day. You know, definitely hard to believe I'm shooting 68 and thinking, oh, what might have been.
GORDON SIMPSON: What do you think was feasible if not 63?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, just shows I was in a good frame of mind. Haven't counted up in my head. Always a day when things are average you go, oh, what if I did this or that, but today was a good day and I was very much in the moment. And at this stage, I know I missed a putt on 7 and 9, but haven't really thought about what else went during the round.
GORDON SIMPSON: Do you feel like there might not be a huge amount of scores under 70 today?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I'm not really thinking too much about the other guys. At the end of the day, I have to worry about myself. If somebody goes out there and plays well, they can shoot a good score. I think the course has been set up very reasonable considering the conditions. Very good, actually.
I definitely was out there playing today thinking, let's try and make birdie, where yesterday I was thinking let's make par sort of thing. It was a better frame of mind. It was a fair golf course playing the way it played today. It was probably the ideal golf course today for me.

Q. Why do you say it's your favourite kind of golf course, because it was windy, chilly?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: The wind doesn't bother me, so, you know, that's fine. I know I have an advantage in that sort of weather that it was so windy that they had to push some tees up.
So, for example, I hit two good drives the last two days on 8. Yesterday I hit a good drive, tried to hold it into the wind and tried to turn it a little bit, went into the rough.
Today I stood up there, and was trying to carry the left-hand bunker because the tee was up to the old tee. I hit a very good drive through the fairway. Yesterday I'm hitting, absolute trying to hit a hybrid in a kind of reasonable lie and I carried it about a hundred yards. It ran up on to the green and I hit it about a hundred yards. Today, I'm hitting a 9-iron. I'm actually trying to make birdie from where I am.
So the difference, I prefer to have a more challenging tee shot. I don't mind hitting in the rough when I can hit 9-iron to the green sort of thing. We can discuss golf all around, but I prefer to give it -- to try and carry that bunker.
Like on 9 yesterday, I hit a super drive on 9 yesterday and I had to lay up. Today I hit a another good drive but I can go for the green. I prefer to, you know, play it in the windy conditions and give myself the opportunity of going for the green in two.
It's just there was more birdie opportunities. Okay, you're afraid of getting the ball up in the wind and it could go anywhere; but, if you did hit a good shot, you were left with a reasonable club and you felt you could score with it.
I didn't miss too many fairways out there, but 8 is a good -- I wasn't under any pressure to hit.

Q. You didn't take advantage of the par 5s, is it fair to say?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I hit 5-wood off the tee on 18. I didn't even attempt to go for it. The other two, I hit two perfect approach shots. Couldn't believe one stayed left on 7. Just the very first fringe, it's a very difficult area to chip from and I made a reasonable chip to five feet and missed it.
The last a squall came up and I hit during it. You know, I hit when I shouldn't have hit and I just got knocked down. It really did -- going backwards by the time it got to the green. Unfortunately I missed the short putt as well.
But, you know, I like playing golf like that. I play golf better when it's a bit more fun like that when there's a fun element to it and you get the ball in the hole whatever way you can.

Q. The pressure of being an Irish winner this week was not so much in play for you either presumably.
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, 11 times is it, or 12 times now, I'm getting used to it at this stage. A lot of my -- a lot of my tournament schedule is now about turning up at a certain event and playing to the best of my ability those weeks; whereas my tournament schedule a few years ago was turn up every week and hope that, you know, the game was here.
I definitely look to tournaments now and think about how to bring my best game that week; whereas years ago, I was always practising for every tournament; I would be practising for the next week. Whereas now I certainly look at certain weeks as being the important weeks and turn up those weeks, and definitely I'm better at my preparation for important weeks. You know, I think I've struggled the last two weeks, but I think whatever happens the next two days, I've been in a good frame of mind so far.

Q. Have you been influenced on that score by Tiger at all?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: No. He actually has a totally different way. I couldn't prepare for a tournament the way he prepares for a tournament. He doesn't play the week before and I need to be out playing golf. It's the most important thing for me to get competitive. So, no, everybody has to find their own -- their own way of doing things and try on their own.
You know, I could be sitting here next year and telling you I've got a different way of doing it. But certainly playing is the most important thing for me, rather than, you know, taking a week off and practising; where it's important to take a week off and practise for long-term objectives or a very short term one or playing in a tournament, I'm better off competing a lot.

Q. I'm thinking in terms of you playing fewer events, aren't you?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I'm playing more. I'll end up playing more by the end of this year. It's just so hard. There are so many good events. I look at my schedule and I sat down and I'm thinking, I'm playing a lot of events this year. I'm thinking what event can I take off, and I can't find one. I can't find one. Every tournament I'm playing in, I want to be there.
I think they are worthwhile events being there and worthwhile events winning. It's incredible how lucky we are as players. We have a lot of good events all around the world, and you know, what events you don't want to miss out on.
Actually it's a tougher thing for a pro now is there's so many good events. But definitely it's an issue for me how many I'm playing and it's something that I probably need to address. I could get up to 32 events this year, when you really, realistically, you want to be around the mid 20s.

Q. Given the strength of today -- the wind, was there even a shot where you played way left or way right of the target?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Not really. I hit 8-iron down the sixth hole 196 yards or something like that, the hole was -- we're hitting 8-iron.
This golf course is very sheltered. There's very few shots out there that get the full brunt of any wind. You can get a gust, I think the fifth, sixth and seventh are probably the most exposed. But no, it's not -- this is what's great about the course.
If we were at other golf courses today, we'd all be sitting in the clubhouse looking out; whereas this course is very playable in extreme weather. At the J.P. Pro-Am, it was very windy there and the course is capable -- it's like what we played 7 today. It was really blowing off the tee and it was blowing on the second shot and there was a bit of a squall coming in, and we stood on 18 and it could have been -- it was so warm. There wasn't a breath of wind standing on the tee box because it's sheltered.
So it just gives you a little back all the time on the course. You never feel like you're totally going to be out in it for any stretch of time, no more than sort of 20 minutes before you at least find somewhere where there's a bit of shelter and the conditions aren't as bad.

Q. What would it mean winning your National Open?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It is my Open. It's my National Championship, yeah, No. 5 (behind the Majors). You know, I believe it would be harder to win some other tournaments but this is No. 5 and what I want to win, yes.

Q. You mentioned a couple of short putts you missed on 7 and 9; were there any other shortish putts you missed?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I was so good today I couldn't even tell you what I did for the first 16 holes which is really tremendous. That just says you're really focused and you're right in the right place. You know, when I sit down here and start thinking about it, I know I didn't put myself under any stress all day, which is very nice, you know.
The longest putt I holed for par was three feet on the sixth. I missed one on the 18th, 3-putting it. But like any day that you're not putting from outside three feet for par, barring a 3-putt on 18, is a day of no stress.
It's not like guys will be out there putting today and you have a lot of 5- and 6-footers. It wears you down. I tended to have a lot of reasonable chances, you know, some 15-footers and whatever. But knowing that I'm having to putt for birdie with no consequence, I'm not thinking of lagging it or anything; it's just a nice and easy game.

Q. It's a fair bet that you'll be in the last match tomorrow; do you remember being close to the last match in the Irish Open and how does that prospect excite you?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think, you know, I obviously would treat the tournament and playing in the game tomorrow as any other round much golf. I'm not going to go out there thinking "I'm in the last group," and I'm not going to go out there thinking, "I'm in the Irish Open."
I'm going to go out there thinking I'm playing the game of golf to the best of my ability and that's it. How I approach it, and you know, will be the same as any other round of golf whether I was, you know, at the top of the order or at the bottom of the order. I'd still go out there and try and play the same way.
There's no point in adding extra pressure and it being the Irish Open. I'm not going to -- you know, that's your job to build it up, not mine. I'm going to play it down in my own head.

Q. But it's still the fifth most important tournament of the year for you?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Oh, no question about it. But I'm definitely -- but you know, that's why -- this is why it's so good. It means a lot to me, so that I'll be out there tomorrow and the next day in a very important situation for me. But in the greater scheme of things trying to absolutely control my emotions and distraction and all that sort of stuff so that I feel comfortable on the golf course.
It's a great opportunity for me to go out there and play tomorrow, and it's something I know I want to win this very badly, there's no question about that. But it would be a great achievement for me if I could go out over the next two days knowing I want to win it so badly and yet play and behave like it's a regular event and a regular normal day out.

Q. Do you feel the crowd winning you on, and when you miss a putt, do you sense their disappointment?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yes, you can definitely sense their disappointment and amazement at times. It's interesting, actually, you know sometimes people you'll hear, like how could he have done that sort of thing, and you're going, well, it's not that easy out here.
It's very nice. I used to think -- I used to think, oh, well, did they not realise that's tough or something. But I now know that it's enthusiasm that people -- it's not that people expect you to do well. It's that they want you to do so well that it comes out -- it does add pressure, no question about it. But it's really enthusiasm that they are really willing you on, no question about it.
Again, you have to take as much as you can from it and then, you know, be disciplined enough not to worry about the "oohhs" and the "aahhs" if you do miss a short putt. We do miss short putts; that happens in the game.

Q. Could we get the details?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: 12, I hit a drive and a 5-wood in the green-side trap, and bunker shot to six feet and holed the putt.
15th hole, 3-wood, sand wedge to about 12 feet and holed the putt.
16th hole, 8-iron, hit the flag, would have been nice to win the old Audi car -- or the new Audi car, it's a new one. It finished about three feet away and 3-putt on 18, probably 45, 50 feet. I hit sand wedge in, misjudged it with the wind.
Birdied the first. I hit 8-iron to about probably 15 feet.
I birdied the par 3. I hit an 8-iron there to 35 feet, holed it, 40 feet. And that was it. That's the end of the excitement for the day.

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